Police: Hit-and-run driver claimed car was stolen

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Police say a Wilson woman who claimed her car had been stolen was behind the wheel when it struck and severely injured a pedestrian early this month.

Benita L. Batts, 44, of 306 Park Ave., was charged Sept. 6 after an investigation into the Sept. 1 crash. She is accused of striking 53-year-old John Russell Gear on Hines Street in Wilson.

First responders found Gear lying in the westbound lane of Hines Street around 12:44 a.m.. He was taken to Wilson Medical Center, then airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville where he was initially listed in critical condition. His current condition is unknown, according to Wilson police spokesman Sgt. Steve Stroud.

Immediately after the crash, police released security camera images Saturday showing a “vehicle of interest”— a white four-door sedan. Stroud said investigators received tips from the public and used that information to identify the car.

Police say Batts reported her car stolen on Sept. 2 and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office recovered it the same day.

Batts is charged with felony hit and run resulting in serious injury or death, driving while license revoked, operating a vehicle with no insurance and filing a false police report. She was initially jailed under a $1,000 secured bond. She is scheduled to appear in Wilson County District Court on Monday.

Police say the crash investigation remains open. Anyone with information is asked to call the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.